W. Bernard Carlson (ed.) Technology in World History

What is Technology in World History?

From the invention of the wheel to the mapping of the genome, technology has always been deeply intertwined with the course of human history. Now, this fascinating set explores the role technology has played in eighteen separate cultures in world history, and reveals the many ways people use technology to control their environment, express religious values, deploy political power, confer social status, and afford themselves varying degrees of pleasure, comfort, and security. Whether focusing on Egyptian pyramids or medieval cathedrals, the Mayan astronomical calendar or the Internet, Technology in World History illuminates the amazing array of technologies that humans have developed to shape and give meaning to their lives.

View Table of Contents and list of contributors.


  • Seven volumes present a fresh perspective on the history of technology, exploring how people have used technology to create different cultures around the world
  • Written by a distinguished group of scholars, each an expert in the cultures and eras under discussion
  • Designed to fit both science and world history curricula
  • Timelines for every chapter provide a ready reference to the development and spread of technologies
  • Specially commissioned maps reconstruct those developments, revealing the importance of such conduits for change as mineral location, trade routes, and migration
  • Illustrated with more than 600 photographs, maps, and diagrams
  • Includes a reference volume with further reading and website recommendations, an extensive glossary, and a series index

Reviews and Press Coverage

  • "Recommended for school and public library collections." (Read full review) - Booklist, 1. December 2005.
  • "...this resource adds useful historical perspective to more in-depth topical surveys, such as Exploring Technology (Marshall Cavendish, 2003)." - (read full review) School Library Journal, February 2006
  • "When shared with 6th grade students, they appreciated the many sidebars and diagrams, which create an eye-catching layout. High school students will find the set most useful in World Cultures classes. Highly recommended." - Library Media Connection, Starred Review
  • How has technology changed world history? Inside UVA, 2006-03-31

Product Details

  • 700 pages;
  • 540+ color illus. in v. 1-6;
  • 8-1/2 x 11;
  • ISBN13: 978-0-19-521820-6 ISBN10: 0-19-521820-5

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Factoid from the encyclopedia

Q. How did the Aztecs grow food in the swamps around the city of Tenochtitlan (known today as Mexico City)?
A. They built chinampas, or artificial islands, by digging canals into the muddy swampland, piling up the muck into islands and reinforcing them with stakes and vines.


Why were there no wheeled vehicles in America before Columbus?

Why did Africans domesticate cattle and donkeys, but not zebras?

Bernie Carlson discusses "Technology in World History."

The kiwi fruit and globalization.

The paradox of the pyramids

Why Chinese coins have square holes

Technology and world history